Dental implants are a well-established, safe and effective way of replacing one, several or even all of your teeth if required. They can be a natural-looking, strong, long-term solution to a missing tooth or loose dentures, and can also help improve quality of life and self-confidence. Implants are suitable for people of all ages, depending on your overall health.
Dental implants replace the roots of your natural teeth and support a manufactured crown, or bridge.
Your natural tooth consists of two parts; the crown, which is what you see in your mouth and the root, which is under the gum and holds the tooth in place. Dental implants are designed to replicate this natural tooth structure – the crown is made of porcelain to look like a natural tooth, and the dental implant is made of strong titanium, which acts as the root. Titanium is well tolerated by the body and once implanted in the jaw, bone grows onto the surfaces of the implant, which effectively fuses it to the surrounding bone. This creates a solid and strong base.
One advantage of implants over dentures is that while dentures may move around in your mouth, implants stay in place. This can reduce pain and discomfort. They can also protect the jawbone and prevent other teeth from moving around, as well as stopping food from getting stuck between the teeth, which can lead to gum disease. Implants can help to improve everyday functions like eating and speech.
Your general health is important if you want dental implant surgery. Patients with diabetes or who are heavy smokers have a greater risk of developing gum disease or infections following implant surgery. It is also important to remember to maintain a good oral hygiene routine after the procedure. If you don’t clean your implants properly, they will develop a coat of residue, like plaque forms on natural teeth. This can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and discomfort.
It usually only takes around 15 minutes to insert dental implants. After this, it can take three to six months for the implants to integrate with the jaw-bone. You can wear dentures or other temporary restorations until
the final crown can be fitted. Over 95% of implants are successful and with good levels of oral health and regular long-term care they can last for 15 years or more.
Implants usually take place under a local anaesthetic so you will not feel any pain during the procedure, although you may experience some discomfort for a week or two afterwards.